The idea of how to manage remote working team until just 20 years ago was pure madness.
Internet has changed the history, and companies are adapting to it.
In the ever-changing and rapidly developing modern world, it is almost impossible to imagine something stable and stationary.
Communication, teamwork and society itself have changed radically.
In fact, today more and more companies and freelancers offer their services on a global level, transforming the virtual workplace from a mere exception to normality.
This trend offers countless opportunities for professionals and companies from all corners of the world.
In Italy more and more companies are activating remote working processes, transferring part of the personnel work remotely.
Managing a team remotely in efficient way, is therefore the new challenge for project managers!
Following there is a series of suggestions to help the project manager in organizing and managing a remote work team.
How to manage remote working team: Choose the right members for the team
Everyone dreams working from home, but only a few can do it.
Actually being able to work professionally and without being overwhelmed by everyday activities is not easy.
In a traditional office, the environment is necessarily more social. It interacts with colleagues also because avoiding them is practically impossible.
Some people need that extra level of social responsibility to work properly.
But there are also other people who manage themselves pretty well.
They organize their workload and keep aligned themselves with the working team.
They can do it even remotely.
Hence, It’s essential to hire this second type of worker in a team that has to perform the job remotely.
This person does not need to be with others to properly to his task.
Effective remote teams are composed of self-motivated individuals who can complete tasks on time without being managed closely.
These workers must be engaged in communication.
They have to know that clear, detailed and continuous communication is vital for a healthy team.
They will work hard and make every effort to interact with the rest of the team every day.
In general, however, it is much easier to appear as a professional worker on the Internet than in real life.
Therefore, before hiring someone, you need to make sure of his expertise, experience and knowledge of the industry.
But how do you know if a person is really the right one for the job?
A possible and simple solution is to start with a test.
It will only take a couple of weeks to find out if the worker is valid for the project or if it is better to find another employee.
How to manage remote working team: Communication is the key
Clear and regular communication is the key to the success of any team work.
In the case of remote teams, continuous and fluid interaction is the lifeblood.
Nowadays there are a lot of free or paid services and tools that facilitate the management of the virtual team.
Depending on the purpose of the communication and its urgency, you can choose the most suitable tool for team members.
In Twproject we have created a very popular tool for business discussions, both formal and informal: the chat.
Its use among our customers was immediately appreciated and widespread.
The TWproject chat was designed and implemented to allow all communications to be centralized.
A single place to communicate, talk about individual projects and having the history of what happened.
And not only. In fact, it often happens that in the discussions emerged activities to be done, not planned or planned.
Here is that thanks to the TWproject chat, it’s possible to mark any message and turn it into a task / issue.
Chatting with colleagues, even without always talking about work, certainly does not damage the process.
On the contrary, it will help people to bind themselves more closely, just like a team. It will help them feeling important for the other team members.
This is why in TWproject the chats can also be created between colleagues only.
Because if it is true that everyone likes to talk about work, it is true that sometimes you can keep the relationship even by discussing a good movie.
To improve the reading of the chats, the log of these chats is visible only by the participants.
Twproject chat is included for free on every floor. (a further money saving, beyond that of time)
So if usually, the best strategy is to have everything in one place, there are some cases where you need to use other communication tools.
This happens when situations become complicated: there are problems that must be managed “face to face”.
Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting or other video-conferencing software are essential for successful remote collaboration.
Sometimes, you need to see a person’s emotions and talk to us directly to understand how things are going.
It serves to know what is really happening on the other side.
It is also advisable to plan regular, weekly or monthly meetings.
The frequency will depend by the frequency of communication with the team.
In this way, it is possible to understand the spirit with which the collaborators are working.
It will help the Project Manager to be sure of the team’s alignment on the project objectives.
How to manage remote working team: Keeping track and reporting of progresses
The tools that are used for communication and control within the team are important. But they don’t affect the success of the project you are working on.
The success of the project in fact, always depends on the people hired and the way in which the overall work process is built.
When dealing with a remote team, the answer to a project manager question may not be immediate.
Sometimes the project manager could wait several hours before receiving an answer. This is due, for example, to a time zone difference.
This is why it is necessary to implement an easy and transparent system for tracking and reporting progress.
Every professional should have a clear vision and understanding of the step he is taking and of what will come next.
Remote team management tools such as TWproject help all team members to be on the same wave line.
They can also obtain the assistance of the right person when necessary.
These tools usually help people to:
- stay organized;
- plan work effectively;
- be more productive.
Clearly defined roles, objectives and expectations help each team member to perform tasks more productively and independently.
How to manage remote working team: The importance of feedback
Every healthy relationship is based on trust and communication.
Remote team management is no exception to this rule.
The project manager must be aware of the team’s expectations.
Collaborators in the same way, should know exactly what the project manager expects from them.
It is easy to lose motivation and “the track” when working away from the rest of the team and when communication is not excellent.
This is why building an empathic listening is essential.
A good remote team manager should not just worry about completing tasks.
It should also show genuine interest in the general well-being of team members!
Take an interest in their job satisfaction and be alert to any further expectations.
The self-motivation of an employee is a must for remote working.
It will not last forever without proper communication, feedback and interaction.
Furthermore, even asking the team regularly for feedback is essential.
If people have been hired prepared and available, why not ask them how satisfied they are with the way things are going?
Why not ask what their ideas are on any business process improvements?
A new perspective and an idea received from the remote team can greatly improve the development of the project.
How to manage remote working team: Real Meetings
The world of technology is great and can make almost anything possible.
But we are humans, and for us “relationship” is a fundamental element.
In the age of technology, the other aspect of the coin is being shown in all its fullness.
It’s the biggest and least obvious digital disadvantage … we’re talking about loneliness.
The remote worker is alone.
And if at first, when the team is formed, it can be an opportunity to start the activities with greater concentration, in the long run this aspect can become a boomerang.
That’s why team building activities for remote teams are as important as those for people who work physically in one company.
If the company allows it, real meetings, even if only annuals meetings, they should be done!
They are perfect for increasing cohesion and team closeness.
The connectivity that can be obtained in real life is difficult if not impossible to reproduce digitally.
Even for the project manager himself, these real meetings could be useful.
Personally meeting colleagues from different cultures will help you understand them better.
Also the overall management will be easier.
Managing remote teams is certainly a challenge.
Remotely, organizing the work process, monitoring team members’ activities, and keeping track of workflow is much more difficult than in an office.
However, the simple tips of this article will help in this task.
In this way, it will be possible to have a group of loyal, hardworking, productive and satisfied employees who will help to achieve company objectives quickly.
Have you ever involved with managing a team at a distance?
What kind of problems did you deal with? What did you like?
Tell us about your experience.